Ukraine: “We want a good solution”

The imprisoned Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has ended her hunger strike after almost three weeks. She was taken to a hospital in the city of Kharkiv, where she is to be treated by Berlin-based neurologist Dr Lutz Harms. Ukrainian doctors are to assist with the treatment. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed his relief that progress had been made. In the interest of reaching a good solution, he also made the case for “quiet diplomacy” in dealings with Ukraine.

Before events took this latest turn, there had been a long struggle over Ms Tymoshenko’s treatment. Professor Einhäupl, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Charité hospital in Berlin, had visited Ms Tymoshenko in prison again along with German diplomats. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is suffering severely from a slipped disc which was inadequately treated in prison. Now that she had ended her hunger strike, Harms said in Kharkiv, she would gradually be reintroduced to normal food. Once she had recovered, he went on, treatment of her back problem could begin.

Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison on 11 October 2011 for allegedly having misused her powers as Prime Minister. On 19 April 2012 a second trial was opened against her. This time it is about her activities as head of a gas company in the 1990s. The court has rejected suspension of the trial until Tymoshenko has recovered.

Rule of law necessary for closer ties to Europe

A demonstration for Tymoshenko in Kyiv on 28 March

A demonstration for Tymoshenko in Kyiv on 28 March
© picture-alliance/dpa

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A demonstration for Tymoshenko in Kyiv on 28 March

A demonstration for Tymoshenko in Kyiv on 28 March

A demonstration for Tymoshenko in Kyiv on 28 March

Minister Westerwelle has repeatedly called on Ukraine to take “credible steps towards more rule of law”. Without this, closer ties between Ukraine and Europe were not possible. He added that Germany wanted “a Ukraine that is part of the European family of values”. In an interview with the “Rheinische Post” on 3 May, Westerwelle said: “We agree with our partners in the European Union that the association agreement with Ukraine cannot be ratified until things are moving in the right direction in Ukraine with regard to the rule of law.” The association agreement was initialled in Brussels on 30 March 2012. But it has yet to be signed and ratified.

Continuing the dialogue

Together with Poland, Ukraine will be hosting the European Football Championship (UEFA Euro 2012) from 8 June to 1 July 2012. The final will be played in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. The European Football Championship in Poland and Ukraine was the focus of discussions between Foreign Minister Westerwelle and German Football Association President Wolfgang Niersbach in Berlin on 11 May. Westerwelle took the opportunity to express praise for the German Football Association’s and the German national team’s clear commitment to democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

Speaking at a Europe Forum in Brussels he had previously said: “Major sporting events are always a good opportunity to draw attention to, for instance, the domestic situation in a country.” It was now necessary to “continue the dialogue with Ukraine and to find a good solution”, he added. He pointed out that not only Ms Tymoshenko was affected, but also other prisoners. “Quiet diplomacy” was called for here as well. Germany, said the Minister, had “a strategic interest in Ukraine orienting itself towards Europe”.

Last updated 11.05.2012

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